SPOKANE, Wash. - Building permits in Spokane County are on the rise again after taking a big hit early in the recession, another sign the regional economy is slowly improving.
According to the Spokane Homebuilders Association, the area hit a low point in 2011 with only 664 permits issued for new home construction. That number climbed to 874 in 2012 and topped 1,100 last year.
From Kendall Yards to Liberty Lake, things seem to be looking up for Spokane County.
"Over the last couple of years there's been a really exciting time for this market let alone River District," Jeremy Nichols with Greenstone Corporation said.
Nichols handles River District developments in Liberty Lake and has experienced the housing market rollercoaster firsthand.
"Statistically over the last couple of years we have tripled our sales in the last two years. In 2011 we sold 17 homes, 2013 we handed off 48 keys to homeowners," he said.
This year alone they are going to build another 35 homes in the River District and hundreds more between Spokane and Kootenai County.
"We just plotted 225 more lots heading north towards the river," Nichols said.
Where this growth is a positive thing it doesn't mean Spokane County is completely out of the woods.
"We're in a slow recovery, that's the best way to say it," Joel White with the Spokane Homebuilders Association said. "We're still not even close to even and average year in Spokane, but it is an improvement. I predict that going to be going on going forward."
White said even though building permits are at a five year high they are only at 46-percent of Spokane County's historical average, but as developers like Greenstone keep building it's a positive sign of economic growth in the region.
"These are smart individuals putting themselves and their businesses on the line," White said. "They're taking a risk, but their feeling positive about the future so that's a good thing."
White said he expects within the next five years Spokane County should be back up to average which is good for both the housing market and employment.
"Every new home built creates about three jobs, three permanent jobs in our community. As we go back to even an average level, that will increase employment in our area and that will increase prosperity in Spokane," White said.